The Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu-Ankomah has said that the government had set up a Committee to prepare a cabinet memorandum with recommendations for introducing nuclear power in the country's energy mix.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah said the move had become necessary in view of the country's current problem of inadequate supply of electricity to meet industrial and domestic purposes.
The Minister was delivering the keynote address at a three-day Training Course on the International Legal Framework Governing Nuclear safety, Security, Safeguards and Liability for Nuclear Damage organised by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in collaboration with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at Kwabenya, near Accra.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah noted that for many years, the IAEA had assisted member-states at their request in developing their domestic legal arrangements for regulating the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation as mandated by the IAEA's statute.
He said: “In Ghana, there has been the expansion of the uses of nuclear techniques in a variety of fields such as health and medicine, agriculture, industry and environment since the establishment of the GAEC by an Act of Parliament.”
He said among the issues to be discussed by the Committee is the legal, regulatory and legislative instruments.
“This training course is therefore not only timely but also of paramount importance in assisting us to prepare ourselves to ensure that we do not breach any international legal instrument in our quest to solve our problems, particularly by incorporating internal guidance documents of foreign law provisions into our national legislation.”
84 participants comprising personnel from the National Security Council, University of Ghana, Legon, GAEC, Ghana National Fire Service, the media and students of School of Nuclear and Allied Science (SNAS) of the GAEC are attending the workshop.
The Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Professor Edward H.K. Akaho said that the “management, operation and utilization of nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes in Ghana are conducted in a safe, secure and environmentally accepted manner.”
Prof Akaho said the Commission was established by an Act of Parliament (Act 558, Atomic Energy Commission Act 2000) as the national nuclear research institution solely for the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
On the area of non-proliferation of nuclear arms, Prof Akaho said Ghana signed and ratified the multilateral treaty (NPT) and adopted the Model Protocol Additional to Safeguards Agreement.
“Since the commissioning of the Ghana Research Reactor-1 in 1995, it has been subjected to IAEA safeguards inspections without any violation of the Agreement.
“In my view, Ghana is making accelerated efforts to establish, maintain and sustain nuclear safety and security and safeguards through the adherence to an implementation of relevant bidding and non-bidding legal instruments.
“In a comprehensive and coherent manner, we have put in place preventive measures of physical protection and accountability of all radioactive materials in use, storage and transport,” he stated.
Professor C.N.G. Tagoe, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, said the university was proud to be associated with the GAEC in the establishment of the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS).
He said the school, which is run through the Agency of the Faculty of Science of the University, was currently offering eight accredited programmes leading to the award of M.Phil and PHD degrees in nuclear and related sciences.